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    Coach O defends Gaston, Samonte, Ravena from Ateneo critics

    Feb 24, 2019
    PHOTO: marlo cueto

    ATENEO head coach Oliver Almadro stood behind outside hitters Ponggay Gaston and Jules Samonte and libero Dani Ravena amid the criticism in UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.

    Almadro is shutting out all the doubts on his wards, particularly the skills of their open spikers and their floor defense.

    “People should not count out my outside hitters. I know my outside hitters are beginners but they lifted us up today. Jules and Ponggay, they are silent killers,” said Almadro after completing a come-from-behind 14-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-18, 15-12 victory over FEU on Sunday at the Arena in San Juan City.


    The two outside hitters combined for 15 points and took care of Ateneo’s floor defense with Gaston tallying 18 excellent receptions and 16 digs, while Samonte having 17 digs and 12 excellent receptions.

    “He's really pushing us because he knows that we can deliver. He knows there's something more. We know that, too,” Gaston said. “Coach O really wants us to help and contribute. Other teams, their strength are their outside hitters. For us, we need to be balanced. Kailangan lahat malakas. That's the kind of team that he wants. That's the kind of system he's trying to make.”

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    Samonte agreed.

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    “Well, I feel more motivated to do better. Kasi we know din naman na we can do better,” the Season 79 Rookie of the year said. “Since ngayon din, nag-iba din yung First Six, ganoon. Siyempre it's a challenge din na I have to accept and do whatever I can to accept my role.”

    Almadro also expressed to not count Ravena out and their floor defense.

    Dani, the youngest sibling among basketball stars Kiefer and Thirdy, is just focusing on improving her game and helping her team

    “Sa sarili namin mas important is to prove to ourselves that we can defend, we have a lot of strong open spikers so parang ganon,” Ravena said. “As long as we know na kaya namin, I think that’s more important than iniisip ng ibang tao.”

    The new Ateneo coach said that doubts have no place on their team as he believes in each one of his 14 players.

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    “Yun ang pinaka-importante, we just believe in our skills, believe in our fundamentals, and believe in what we're preparing for. And I'm sure we will have a bright future,” Almadro said. “We're doing our job. We're training hard, we're doing double time. There's no room for doubts for us. I guess, my players did well.”

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    PHOTO: marlo cueto
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